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Common misconceptions about Millfield


We have heard plenty of misconceptions about Millfield over the years, so here are a selection of the most common, so that we can separate the facts from the fiction.  

1 – Millfield is only about Sport  

Very wrong!  

We are extremely good at developing young people through sport and our outstanding facilities, expert coaches, specially designed timetable and individual programmes play a big role in this. We have huge success nationally and internationally, with current students and Old Millfieldians, so that is what you will hear about most in connection with Millfield. But Millfield is much more than sport. Our concept of ‘student athletes’ means just that.   

Academics is front and centre of all that we do. In September 2022, we officially launched the Brilliance Curriculum. We consciously reordered and realigned the teaching of all subjects’ knowledge, focusing on explicitly identifying and highlighting the key building blocks to understanding. A deliberate move away from just turning the pages of a textbook. We have linked subject topics together for greater understanding and context. Examples of this are: specific heat capacity in physics links to ocean warming in geography, The Great Gatsby studied in English links to American depression in history, projecting missiles in physics links to artillery in warfare in history. And we started it in Year 7, at Millfield Prep, through to Year 13.  Below is our Physics Brilliance Journey, showing students what topics lie ahead.  


Why did we do this?   

A broader understanding of the topic, that filters into different subjects, results in a richer learning. When real life examples give context, understanding leaps up a notch. Students can encounter the same piece of knowledge in biology or in geography, English and history. The Brilliance Curriculum is a game changer that makes learning ‘stick’ in the mind. Cementing connections between subjects will also help enrich university applications. Further, it empowers teachers to reconnect with the subject they love, own how they tackle a topic, the architecture of the course, and to bring in skills like independence and curiosity which can only lead to better teaching.   

Millfield has helped produce successful academics as well as sports figures, such as OM Yuhka Machino who was named the top female school-aged mathematician in the world in 2020. Yuhka is now studying at a world leading University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).  

Our top 100 students annually attain grades equivalent or better than highly selective schools. We look at the top 100 as that size of year group is more comparable with other schools.  

We are also well known for our incredible learning support which is better than any school in the country. We celebrate dyslexia as a superpower, it’s not a barrier to succeeding.   

Read more about some of the inspirational students who discovered their brilliance at Millfield here


2- All the amazing facilities and investment are centred around sport performance  

Just not true!  

Our Music school is better than most schools’ whose specialism is music!  

This always comes as a surprise to families. With a growing concert calendar featuring 50 concerts, performances range from solo recitals to large-scale ensemble concerts and chamber music concerts, to contemporary evenings, musicals and a whole school House Song. The Music School benefits from a high-profile external performance calendar, participation in renowned music festivals and competitions, regular services and concerts at Wells Cathedral, tours across the globe, whilst also hosting an International Concert Series, a programme of Masterclasses and a biennial Concerto Festival. We have our very own recording label and a professional standard recording studio.  

Our 350-seat Concert Hall has superb acoustics and a stage large enough to host a full orchestra and choir. Our Steinway D Piano was recently described by international artist Pascal Rogé as “among the ten best pianos I have ever performed on”. The department also has 25 practice rooms, numerous rehearsal spaces, all equipped to the highest standard.  

Music scholars have gone on to study at some of the finest conservatoires in the world including Curtis Institute, Royal College of Music, Royal Academy of Music, Royal Northern College of Music and Trinity Laban. Take a watch of just a few highlights from our music department #WeAreMusic. 

We also have remarkable Art facilities and a professional gallery as part of the facility. #WeAreArt 

At Millfield, we have over 100 students dance as part of their Games programme and we offer over 30 classes throughout the week in Ballet, Tap, Modern Jazz, Street Dancing, Contemporary and Musical Theatre. We have elite dance groups and a busy performance calendar. See our Dance programme here.  

Our Meyer Theatre Company develops the talents and skills of our drama students in an annual programme of theatre training, workshops and theatre visits with two large scale productions each year. The 450 seat Meyer Theatre is national standard with a full technical team.   

We offer individual LAMDA lessons with our specialist Speech and Drama coach and the BA16+ Sixth Form programme is for those wishing to apply for courses at Drama schools or universities.  Our technical theatre team also run weekly sessions in lighting, set and costume design, with opportunities for students to join our technical crew on major productions. Watch just a few highlights from our Drama department #WeAreDrama.  

So wherever your talents lie, and even if you’re a multi-talented, you can do it all to a high level at Millfield.  


3 – Boarding schools such as Millfield empty on the weekend  


This is the case at many boarding schools, but all our boarders are full boarders and live at school seven days a week during term time. As a result, our boarders get the benefit of around the clock access to our facilities as well as other co-curricular activities to enjoy and they are part of a vibrant, busy community at all times. Students are allowed three exeats a term, to go home and see family or friends, and there is one fixed exeat in the autumn term when school is closed (provision is made for overseas students who wish to stay on campus), so out of around 990 boarders, on average around 700 or so will be onsite every weekend (Mother’s Day weekend in March tends to see a larger exodus as the children go home to see their mums!)   

Many other boarding schools who have lower numbers of boarders or who have many that weekly board empty on the weekends. It is worth asking lots of questions about this so that your child is not alone or with very few friends for company on Saturdays and Sundays.   

We have lessons on Saturday mornings and sports fixtures and activities in the afternoon. Our boarding programme includes trips such as ice skating, shopping at The Mall Cribbs Causeway, Cabot Circus in Bristol, Exeter and Bath Christmas Markets, outdoor activity centres, caving, cinema, Za Za Bazaar world banquet restaurant in Bristol, bowling, rugby and football matches in Bristol and Bath and theatre trips. On campus students enjoy themed nights, house games, movies, takeaways, cooking and BBQ’s.  

We also believe the full boarding environment creates a sense of community by forming lasting friendships and developing skills for life such as independence and resilience. The full boarding experience is great for our students who live far away from school and overseas, for whom it isn’t feasible to go home often.  Learn more about boarding at Millfield, click here.  


4 – Millfield isn’t a diverse school as only the very wealthy can afford the fees  

Wrong again!  

Around 50% of Millfield students receive some financial assistance, such as a scholarship or bursary or both and some benefit from 80-110% concessions providing them with life changing opportunities. Some students who receive bursaries may not meet the requirements for a scholarship however have a genuine financial need. We award scholarships annually to candidates who are exceptionally talented in a discipline, these students will get a fee reduction on their fees of up to 10%. There is a finite amount of money that Millfield can award every year so once the pot is allocated, there is no further assistance available. These funds come from fee income, so in essence, and as it was when the school was founded, the full fee payers support the education of those who cannot ordinarily afford to attend the school. This is a key pillar of Millfield which enables the diverse community to thrive, known as the Millfield Mix.    

Millfield does not have a large endowment fund like some traditional independent schools have and so fundraising is a key part of the school’s ethos.  

Scholarship applications are made online in the year preceding entry but there are strict deadlines for applying in the autumn term to be aware of. Read more about our bursaries and scholarships at Millfield here.  

We are extremely proud of our international character, with more than 240 overseas students from more than 65 different nationalities. The school is also a multi-faith community and religions are both valued and practised. We have an International Students Association (ISA) which exists to represent and promote the interests of international students within Millfield, and to enrich the school generally by drawing upon the cultural diversity within the student population. It provides a forum for celebration, support and discussion as well as giving the school's international students collective representation.  


5 – Millfield operates in its own elite bubble   


Millfield provides benefit to the public on a local, regional and national scale, through financial support, sharing facilities, resources and knowledge with local state schools, involvement in community projects, teacher development and offering life changing opportunities to disadvantaged children.  We actively teach our students about their social responsibilities.  

We have a conscience. We know we have facilities and expertise that many schools around us do not and we find ways to share that as often as possible. We are passionate about children learning, whether those children are at Millfield, or in the community around us.    

Regular beneficiaries include pupils from Elmhurst Junior School, Brookside Academy and St Dunstan’s state schools who have enjoyed events such as Science Week shows, a Business Enterprise Event, Disney’s Moana the musical production and Combined Cadet Force. Multiple primary schools attend themed days such as a Commonwealth Games Day where they get to meet Commonwealth or Olympic athletes to inspire them. Millfield students teach the children skills in art, drama, reading and Chinese, paired reading, print making and drama.  

We also hold annual Oxbridge Preparation Days, medical careers days, a careers fair, History and Politics Conference lecture series, music competitions and performances, plays, art exhibitions, staff training and a Community Day for people with learning difficulties, and local schools participate in all these events.   

We have previously hosted a virtual school trip experience, open to any school in the world to tune in. We offer our facilities to many schools and community groups to utilise at no cost, hosting Christmas plays and performances.   

We have 13 senior leaders, teachers and support staff, who are governors at eight different local state schools, sharing their practices and expertise.   

To read more on how Millfield supports the public and local community in other ways click here.    

Current Parent Timothy Williams:   

“When we were looking at Millfield first, we heard people say that it is only for sports and dyslexics kids. Having then done our own homework we didn’t agree with any of that and now I can confidently say Millfield can cope with you whoever you are. It’s phenomenal. It’s like a university for kids and with excellent pastoral care.” (August 2023) 


6 - Millfield is big and my child will therefore be lost or anonymous.  


This is often said by competitors, nervous of Millfield’s success. We are big and we are proud of that virtue:  

Our scale means we can deploy teacher resource to support your child i.e. classes are amongst the smallest in the UK.   

Our scale means we can offer a range of subjects and pathways unparalleled in the sector.    

Our scale means we can invest in the best facilities, often better than universities.  

Our scale means every child finds a tribe of like-minded individuals, no matter what their interest or ability.  

Our scale means we are a stable, thriving, forward thinking business.   


If reading this has quashed some of the misconceptions that you had about Millfield and you are interested in knowing more, see the school in person at our next Open Day. Book here.